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Kim - My Teacher
Kim- My Teacher
By Tony DeLorger © 2010
Sometimes the pain of life can also deliver its most poignant beauty. That irony is every present in life, should we look for it. Balance after all is a universal law and however we judge events to be cruel or purposeless, there is always purpose.
At the age of twenty-two I was married and my wife and I had had a beautiful daughter who we named Kim. Two days after her birth she, because of a fateful twist of her bowl, became gravely ill from peritonitis. She suffered unimaginable pain, operation after operation over a four-month period.
The following is an extract from my book ‘Harold Be Thy Name’, a cathartic novel that helped me piece back together my life.
The ribbed clear plastic ventilator tube lay next to Kim’s face, attached to a valve and then to her airway tube. It was held in place again, by a mass of white tape over her cheek and down across the sheet.
The state she was in hit them both incredibly hard, as if it was the first time they’d seen her like this. A desperate, helpless feeling thoroughly and mercilessly flooded their senses, almost stifling their breath. The lump in Josh’s throat, engorged with emotion, kept him teetering on the edge of breakdown, toying with his mind and ability to focus.
Josh moved tentatively forward and quietly gloved his right hand, reaching through the side opening in the box. Kim’s plump little hand lay motionless among a tangle of tubes and wires, and Josh lovingly stroked it, feeling the warmth of her life against him. His eyes sadly moved toward her face, and as he did, Kim opened her eyes.
She blinked slowly, weakly, and then focused, looking up at her dad who had come to see her. As recognition began to register in her consciousness, her little face suddenly transformed into the most loving smile Josh had ever seen. Her big brown eyes sparkled and Josh felt radiant warmth envelop his soul, seemingly transporting him, without effort, to an almost unearthly reality.
Tears welled in his eyes as the emotion swept powerfully through him, somehow conquering and solidifying the confused feelings he’d been experiencing. It was as if this one, selfless gesture, had taken Josh far beyond the physical reality that had brought them to this point. For a split-second Josh understood; all seemed right and just, as it should be. ‘What human beings are capable of, goes far beyond this mortal coil,’ he quietly considered.
The tears streamed down Josh’s face as he tenderly touched his daughter, assuring her of his love and sharing completely her life, whatever that was to be.
That night after tossing and turning for hours, Josh got up at 3am, and being careful not to wake Carol, quietly went to the kitchen. He didn’t turn the light on, there was a full moon and a clear sky and a luminescent glow streamed through the window and slowly brought the stillness to life. He mindlessly heated some milk on the stove, then carefully poured it into a glass and sat at the bench sipping it, staring into the shadows, hoping for it to somehow knock him out. Then through the silence…
‘Josh?’ whispered a familiar voice.
He turned and looked up to see Harold’s face delicately outlined by the soft, filtered moonlight.
‘Look, I know you don’t want to talk to me, but I want to tell you something.’
Harold pulled over one of the kitchen chairs and sat down at the table opposite. He leaned forward and clasped his hands together, a little hesitant.
‘I hope you understand this, I really want you to,’ he said in a kind voice. Josh looked at him with some ambivalence, but not considering anything.
‘I’ve been talking to Kim,’ he followed, with trepidation. Josh’s expression hardened.
‘Don’t do this to me,’ he pleaded.
‘She wants you to know something,’ added Harold. Josh could barely contain himself, the pain returning with a particular vengeance.
‘I am to tell you that today, was her best day ever,’ said Harold, a little emotional himself.
‘Why are you doing this?’ asked Josh, torn apart.
‘Josh, try not to see everything through your eyes only. Kim never wanted you to save her, just to love her,’ he followed, knowing the truth was so often cruel.
Josh closed his eyes and his face crumpled, and just when he’d thought there was nothing left in him, he was suddenly overwhelmed and overpowered by an avalanche of emotion. He laid his head on the bench and cried from the depths of his being.
Following seven life-threatening operations, some successes and many setbacks, Kim was removed from her life support system and passed away quietly, her quest for live denied. Never has there been such a profound experience in my life- the love shared, many forced understandings and the resolution to let her go.
Kim was the bravest and most beautiful human being I have ever met or will meet. Thirty-five years later there is seldom a day I do not think about my little Kim. Life can often seem so cruel but in the end we have to learn not to judge life from our perspective alone. Time, circumstance and loss are unimportant compared with unconditional love. What we see as loss can often be a reminder of the capacity of our soul to love.
- Tony's book 'Harold be thy Name'
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